BELT — For 13 years Matt and Ethan Triplett have enjoyed sharing the field together as a father-son, coach-player duo. Ethan is now in his senior year with the Belt Huskies, and the father-son duo is ready to enjoy one last ride together.
“It’s definitely really special to love the game of football myself and to be able to coach it and to be able to coach my son and see him develop,” said Matt.
Matt has coached Ethan throughout his childhood as a mix of head coach and assistant coach, but he took over the Husky program last year as they went on to an undefeated season and won the state title. He has coached Ethan into some on-field success, but he was also leading by example long before Ethan came into the football world.
“I always looked up to him. He’s in the CMR Hall of Fame, so I’ve always looked up to him in that way, and he played at Carroll College, so he’s just been a great athlete his entire career,” said Ethan. “I’ve been really motivated to be like him and just like him as a person.”
Through the time they’ve shared together on the gridiron, they have learned to leave football on the field and share a different bond when it comes to things outside of football.
“There’s some evenings when he’s kind of frustrated with me and I’m frustrated with him, but when we get off the field I’m back to dad again,” said Matt. “When we step on the field he knows it’s time for business and it’s time for me to be coach and I can be hard on him and at the end of the day I can give him a hug and tell him I love him.”
"A lot of our relationship is football, but we also have family, hunting and God," added Ethan.
Even though they have figured out when to be father-son or coach-player, there are still times when Matt will switch into dad mode to get the best out of his son. During Ethan’s freshman year, one of the Huskies' safeties went down with an injury against a would-be semifinalist Fort Benton team and Ethan was thrown into the game.
"I was nervous and I was a wreck on the sideline," Ethan recalled. "He came over to me and said, 'Just be you. You have all the confidence in the world. You just have to be you.'"
That confidence Matt instilled into his son that day has brought him a long way as Ethan begins the steps of making his college decision. He has been offered to play for multiple schools in the Frontier Conference as well as the University of Montana. The college decision is one he plans to focus on after the season as he says his priorities right now are focusing on winning one more state title with his team.
In addition to their goals on the field, Matt says they have talked about enjoying the process, enjoying every game and taking it all in during this bittersweet season.
The No. 7-ranked Huskies are 2-1 heading into their game at Shelby on Friday.